Babumoshai Bandookbaaz has finally released after facing trouble at the CBFC. In an interview with indianexpress.com, Siddiqui talks about how he has come to a better place after a very long struggling phase as an actor and Bollywood’s obsession with fairness. He also opened up about what love means to him.
Why did you choose to be Babumoshai Bandookbaaz?
Babumoshai Bandookbaaz is a very realistic movie with a realistic story and raw romance. It is for audience who doesn’t mind watching ground reality free of glamour. My character in the film is weird. He is a shameless Romeo who is a superstar contract killer. You might not like him at all after watching the film. But because such people exist, you should watch the film. If we don’t show films that reflect reality then we will have zero global reach, and that does happen with Indian film, we have a limited reach. We are not able to crack the international audience in totality. This will be possible when we make local films with authentic characters. Reality based characters will add on to the craft. We need to move on from fake fantasy films showcasing romance and glamour.
Your life story is inspiring. What do you like to be known as – a star or an actor?
It was my conscious decision to become an actor. I never wanted to be a star really. If I become an actor someday that will make me very happy. I will never be able to maintain or sustain stardom. The process of working into my character fascinates me. Once the film is done, I don’t bother what happens, I don’t follow what happens to the film once it hits the screens.
You are seen in a film every two months. You have become a safe bet for filmmakers.
I am very thankful to the industry. I feel very good with the kind of work I am getting. The best part is the industry is offering me variety of roles. It is a great platform to showcase every aspect of my personality. There are thousand people in one person, and with every character I portray, I am getting to live every person in me, whether it is Babumoshai Bandookbaaz or Manto who is a learned scholar and one of the biggest writers in history.
With your view on the fairness debate, many people supported you, but some also said that you are using the victim card.
More than the industry, our society is obsessed with fairness. If you see the matrimonial advertisements in newspapers, it is written that the girl or the boy should be fair along with other things. Fairness creams are consumed widely in the Indian market. I want the consumers to know that no, they don’t need to become fair. I want that people who promote these products also take up the responsibility because they might not be realizing how they are not only selling their product, but also increasingly growing an inferiority complex. This is wrong! And me playing a victim card, if people think I am doing that, then the industry recognises and considers you only for your work. ‘Der-saber’ (slowly-steadily, but definitely) you will get the work if you deserve it. Thankfully the industry is not seeing what colour you are, that’s a checkpoint in the ad-world and the society. So, I have nothing to lose really, with my color I am managing, I have been fighting my battles, but I want people to be responsible and know the harm they do when they promote fairness products in India.
Being an outsider, what is your take on nepotism? Have we taken the debate too far?
Of course, nepotism exists, but at the same time if someone is talented, they are sure to get an opportunity and a platform. It does take some time, but it definitely happens. It is much easier for star-kids to get their first break, but to get a second film, they also need to showcase what they have in them, their talent. Tiger Shroff for instance is a star-kid, but he is growing in the industry because he has an expertise. He is an amazing dancer, and he works hard. His action sequences are unquestionable. Tiger trained himself in dance and action without telling his dad (Jackie Shroff). He has it in him.
You have always wanted to do a romantic film. What according to you is love?
Yes, I have always wanted to be the romantic lead, and with Babumoshai Bandookbaaz you will see a Romeo in me, however shameless he is. For me love is freedom, actually. Comfort. If you love someone, they should be free, adhikaar nahi hona chaahiye! Agar mein aapse pyar karta hoon, toh aap meri property nahi hai, aap pe mera adhikaar nahi hai. Usko puri freedom feel honi chaahiye. (You shouldn’t claim ownership. If I love you, you are not my property. I can’t claim ownership over you. You should have complete freedom.)”